Friday, 25 May 2018

I Can't Stand The Rain

Waking up to torrential rain and grey skies this morning after the glorious sunshine of the last two weeks sure put a damper on our mood. Our first Oriental poppy of the Summer finally burst forth only to be battered into submission hours later, the cats dashed outside to explore what had happened in the garden overnight and immediately sought shelter under the van, balefully looking at us as if the inclement weather was of our making and the silk jumpsuit and fabric boots I'd intended to wear for my stroll into town were put aside in favour of something less flimsy and more watertight.

WEARING: Vintage Van Allen maxi (eBay, 2006) , birdcage umbrella (inherited from Mum) , psychedelic bag (Vintage Village at Stockport market hall), gold space boots (retail)

Out came one of my beloved Van Allen corded cotton maxis (I've also got one in green). I bought them from eBay over a decade ago. The seller had enclosed a note in the parcel, telling me how, in the late Sixties when she'd been a sixth former she got a Saturday job in Van Allen and had bought the dresses using her staff discount. She'd worn one of her dresses to see Jimi Hendrix perform at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Every Summer I get them down from the suitcase on top of the wardrobe and fall in love with them all over again. The early '70s birdcage umbrella was my Mum's. I've got quite a collection of vintage brollies and for some reason I've never used this one - until today. What was I thinking? It's the best umbrella ever, it covers my shoulders, I can see out of it and it can withstand wind, unlike modern umbrellas than turn inside out if you sneeze at them.

Walsall is getting more and more depressing, we made the national news last night because of the huge problems we have with fly tipping and the number of boarded up shops in the town centre is horrendous - made even worse by yesterday's news that Marks and Spencer, which has stood in our high street for 84 years, is set to close down. I got what I needed to from Wilko and Beauty Queen Cosmetics (their Ardell eyelashes are half the price of Superdrug, there's a Bollywood soundtrack and the extremely helpful all-male staff are super friendly and, unlike every other shop I go in, always smile and ask how I am rather than bark "wanna carrier bag?" at me without even making eye contact). The remaining four chazzas, which unless you're a fan of Primark & George at Asda, are usually pretty grim but today I managed to snaffle a few vintage gems - a 1970s French-made gingham and lace-trimmed midi dress, a ditsy print cotton maxi, an early 1960s cotton shift labelled "Wynne - A quality product of the British Empire" and a 1930s silk bed jacket from Woollands Ltd of Knightsbridge, a lingerie company founded in 1869 which served the aristocracy, including Edward VII's mistress, Alice Keppel.

Talking of labels thanks to my friend Sarah, I'm now the proud owner of a rather slinky vintage silk dress by Travilla, the designer behind Marilyn Monroe's iconic white dress in the Seven Year Itch. Despite us never having met she has a knack of finding clothes that fit me perfectly, this dress being no exception.

WEARING: Travilla silk dress with panelled skirt (present), vintage Ted Lapidus sunglasses, 1960s chain belt and TopShop platforms (all charity shopped)

Look at that sunshine. It's hard to believe this photo was only taken a couple of days ago although the BBC reckon we're getting Summer back tomorrow. Hooray!

Away from the misery of a wet Friday in the Black Country lets see what's going on in Gothenburg, shall we?

Here's Liv and Axel. As it's a bank holiday on Monday they're making the most of their weekend and they're off out on the town tonight. Liv's beauty routine - like mine - includes a glass of wine while she's getting ready and Axel, ever the obliging partner is happy to keep her topped up.

Excited that the World Cup is less than a month away Axel's resplendent in the colours of his national side. Being the proud Swede all of the furniture in this room (including the bearskin rug, '70s sewing machine and lamp) is vintage Lundby.

If like Liv and I you dress almost exclusively in vintage clothes it's a good idea to keep a sewing machine close at hand as you never know when you might need to make an emergency repair.

Liv's hem needed urgent attention this evening.

Liv & Axel's bedroom is papered in one of Josef Frank's classic prints, Catleya, created in 1930 and based on an orchid grown in the rain forests of South America. The cushions were handmade from vintage fabric scraps, the reading lamp flexes are knicker elastic and the suitcase is made from a matchbox. As you can tell from her bedside reading, like all the best people, Liv is obsessed with doll's houses.

The religious picture is taken from a devotional pendant - also from Sarah. The centre light is a ping pong ball, Linda's brilliant idea.

Liv, Axel & I say Cheers, all! Have a fabulous weekend whether or not it's a long one.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Bell Bottom Blues

Jeans? Even Jon was surprised. Back in the late '90s through until the early 2000s I lived in them - possibly as a reaction against the corporate suits I was forced to wear for work. Back then I'd wear them skinny (always Topshop Baxters) with vintage knee high boots and either pussy bow blouses or skinny band tees and waistcoats but, after quitting the drudgery of paid employment, I could wear whatever I wanted all the time so the need to dress down became obsolete. Trying my old skinnies after a long break I noticed how they accentuated my mismatched hips, the replaced left hip doesn't curve like my unoperated right side, and whilst I wasn't bothered about looking lopsided (it sure beats being in constant pain) I didn't particularly want to advertise the fact. The jeans were sold on eBay and I moved on.

I've flirted with jeans in the nine years since I started blogging, I've had a couple of pairs of vintage flares but ended up selling them as the fit wasn't quite right. I've always kept my eyes peeled for a decent, well-fitting pair to wear with my collection of vintage hippy tunic tops and blouses but to no avail. That was until yesterday when helping a couple of mates set up their new venture as vintage traders I spotted these original deadstock 1970s Lois bell bottoms hanging on their rails.

How cool are the original tags? It seemed a shame to remove them!

I'm not sure if many non-Europeans will be familiar with Lois denim but to us Brits they were the epitome of cool. My Mum was an avid Lois jeans wearer which was pretty outrageous for a mother of two back in the 1970s when all the other mothers at the school gates dressed exclusively in Marks & Spencer dresses.

Abba publicity photo from 1973 (SOURCE)

Endorsed by hip European celebrities like Johan Cruyff & Bjorn Borg (and the not quite as cool, Abba), Spanish-made Lois jeans were massive. You'd be hard pressed to open a magazine or to pass an advertising hoarding without seeing the famous Lois bull back in the 1970s.

The gorgeous Bjorn Borg advertising Lois Jeans in 1979 (SOURCE)

So how did a family business from a tiny village in Spain become one of the big players in the world of denim? It started with two brothers, Joaquin and Manuel Saez Merino, who started selling anything they could get their hands on. The brothers started making their own work wear, based on craft production by the women in their village. Travelling around the country selling their products on the back of a donkey, they picked up on the growing popularity of denim in Europe amongst the younger generation.

Advert from 1962 (SOURCE)

After experimenting with different styles they discovered that jeans were not difficult to make but the challenge was to find similar fabrics that were used by the popular American brands in Spain. After attempting to import denim from America, the Saez Merino brothers decided to invest in their own looms so that they could manufacture denim to the highest quality themselves. At this point, the name Lois Jeans didn't yet exist as the brothers were keen to learn their craft inside out and establish themselves in the market first.

From 1967 (SOURCE)


1965 advert (SOURCE)

Confident that their jeans were now of the highest quality as well as being comfortable and good-looking in 1962 Lois Jeans was finally born

Lois advert from 1977 (SOURCE)

The Lois ideology fitted in perfectly with the mood of the time – with the youth movement of the seventies in Europe revolving around both student protest and hippy culture, jeans became the uniform of the nonconformist. It was also the first time that the flare appeared, leading to the massive popularity of Lois’ iconic GAUCHO jeans.

1977 campaign poster (SOURCE)

Ad from 1975 (SOURCE)
Up the workers! Ad campaign from 1977 SOURCE

From 1976 (SOURCE)

Although Lois jeans are still made to this day the brothers' manufacturing company, Saez Merino, S.A., went into liquidation a couple of years ago and the denim is now manufactured by the Dutch.

Early jeans label (SOURCE)

WEARING: Vintage Lois bell bottoms in indigo blue, 1970s Indian block printed cotton top by Rhode Island Exports, New York ; Jeffrey Campbell Woodies; 1970s tooled leather belt; Moroccan -made leather clutch with a tassel trim (all charity shopped), vintage sunglasses (car boot sale)

I'm wondering if I should do a jeans week like Sheila did recently and wear them every day? It could be the wrong week to try what with glorious sunshine and temperatures set to hit the balmy heights of 22 degrees.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole - More Mini Adventures

I found this miniature making book at the car boot sale & the introduction by author, Christaine Berridge, could have been written by me. When I discovered dolls' houses it was as though a locked door had been opened. Here was a hobby that united many of my existing interests and I could be creative with a purpose, indulging my love of social history, architecture, painting, making and sewing along the way.  Six years (or, in my case, six weeks) on from that initial discovery I am as excited by the subject as ever. What I love about dolls' houses and miniatures is that they are so accessible. You can buy or make, or mix and match. This is a passion that is open to all and can comfortably span the generations and my head is full of ideas that I only wish I had the time to develop.

The glorious weather of the past couple of weeks has hindered my dolls' house progress as I've spent most of my free time outside but, with a few hours put aside in the evenings for play, I've finally completed the first room in my latest Lundby, which I'm calling the salon. It's a light and airy space filled with houseplants where one can enjoy civilised conversation, a cool drink and maybe play a tune or two on the grand piano (inherited from a wealthy aunt).

I wanted a real wood floor for this room, just like in our real-life house. The boards came in kit form from eBay for £1.99 and Jon fitted them for me. I didn't ask, he volunteered, probably anticipating the mess I'd get into, but I did manage to fit some skirting boards without too much swearing.

I'd been in love with the Martinique wallpaper forever, designed by Don Loper in 1942 for the Beverley Hills Hotel (HERE) and thought this print with the aqua background (in real life, a fabric design) would be a great alternative. I decided to leave the window curtain-less as the room wasn't overlooked by the neighbours and the leaded glass deserves to be seen.

Image taken from Scandinavian Design in the Doll's House, an essential if you're a fellow vintage Lundby obsessive
In sharp contrast to Lundby's more usual modernist style of furniture, the Royal lounge suite in the Neo-Gustavian style, common in Sweden at the beginning of the 20th Century, was produced in 1978. When new, the Royal came with a miniature gold framed portrait of the official engagement photograph of King Carl XVI and Miss Silvia Sommerlath and was taken by Lennart Nilsson in 1975.

 The suite originally consisted of a sofa, a coffee table and two armchairs. The set I won on an eBay auction had a single chair and a pair of sofas, one of which had been fitted with a replacement leg, but at a mere £7.50 (the joys of listings finishing on gloriously sunny Bank Holiday weekends!) I was more than happy. My friend Lisa made the groovy yellow floral cushion and the rest were made by me in the garden yesterday.

Mini cushion making is very addictive! The blue fabric is vintage braid, cut into lengths, stuffed with cotton wool and blanket stitched along the edges with embroidery silk (the joys of buying vintage sewing boxes, I've got endless notions to use up). 

This gilt decorated grand piano, in the Rococo style, was manufactured by Per-Hugo Bornfelt for Lundby between 1950 - 1970. The stool is a later piece from the 1970s as is the brass lamp.

Remember me showing you the haul of dolls' house accessories found at the car boot sale a couple of weeks ago? At 3 items for £1 I don't really know why I didn't buy the lot. The bellows, candelabra and miniature brass table and chairs were just some of my buys. The orchid in a jug came from a lady who makes mini pot plants and sells them on eBay so cheaply it's hardly worth attempting to make them myself. The wooden frame came from a set bought from Poundland and the mirror was prised out of an old eye shadow kit. 

A mini within a mini!

I made the plant bench from lollipop sticks, push pins, toothpicks and a gallon of glue.

Are you familiar with Josef Frank (1885 - 1967)? He was an Austrian-born architect, designer and artist who founded the Vienna School of Architecture. He fled the burgeoning Nazism of Austria in the late 1930s to settle in Sweden and had an enormous impact on the history of Swedish design. I adore his vibrant textiles and wanted to include some in my house. The screen, which I made from a cat food box, is adorned with his Anakreon design, produced in 1938 and based on a 3,500 year old fresco from the Palace of Knossos on Crete.

The print of the lampshade above Papa Lundby's head is another Josef Frank design, Celotocaulis. Produced in 1930 it comes from an Asian flower species characterised by a plume-like flower (caulis is Latin for flower stalk).

Our Swedish neighbours, The Lundbys, asked us to babysit their son, Sven, last night along with their rescue cat, Viggo. It was a late night as Sven insisted on staying up to watch the ice hockey quarter finals between Sweden and Latvia (Sweden won). 

Sven loves Viggo.

Papa Lundby needs a beer, he and his wife have been trying to find some new clothes for the summer but they can't see anything in the shops, it's either badly made, poorly fitting or in boring colours. Being the neighbourly sort I've offered to run them up something groovy if I find some cool fabric when I'm at the car boot sale over the weekend.

WEARING: Me-made maxi created from a pair of 1970s Grace Sullivan curtains and a vintage Kenzo dressmaking pattern, Jeffrey Campbell Woodies (charity shop), vintage sunglasses and a Moroccan tooled leather bag (car boot sale)
See you soon!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Vintage Village - Sunshine & Scooters

What a glorious day it was on Sunday for our return to Stockport's Vintage Village. This month's theme was Mod and the scooter clubs turned up in their droves.

How amazing do this couple look? Like Mim, she's the proud owner of the British-made Mod Shoes. So impressed was Paul Weller by their incredibly cool vintage Lambretta that he signed it for them. We kitted a few of the Mods out with 1960s Crimplene shifts, boating blazers and Tootal scarves and cravats in readiness for Brighton.

Talking of cool couples, here's our Lynn and Philip, resplendent in their vintage finery.

We hadn't seen them in absolute ages so it was a joy to catch up.

...And here's Teddy, the official mascot of Suzy Loves Milo Boutique, last seen at the Classic Car Boot Sale in that London a couple of weeks ago.

Here's Paula (aka Mrs Morton Vintage) and very cute dog.

I know I'm always banging on about the range of stuff you can find at Vintage Village but it really is amazing. Even a vintage sceptic would find it hard to leave empty handed.

We sold stuff, we posed for photos and caught up with friends old and new and we had so much fun we're going to do it all over again next month.

They day ended, as it often does with an impromptu pint in the company of some of our crazy vintage family (Suzy Loves Milo and Essentially Eagle Vintage).  Look at the size of that Yorkshire pudding.

Of course, it's impossible to visit Vintage Village without buying something...and I did. Well, how could I resist psychedelia, vintage Indian block print and 1970s Lundby?

I also came home with some fab freebies courtesy of our friends Lisa & Mark.

Right, I'm off to lie in the garden, it's glorious out there!

Wearing: Vintage Frank Usher balloon sleeve maxi and 1970s suede platform boots

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.